Sunday, August 26, 2012

Cosmopolis Review

“A rat became the unit of currency.”
-Zbigniew Herbert.

In this day and age, if anyone can describe Capitalism as a disease ridden rodent it is David Cronenberg. In his new film "Cosmopolis", starring Robert Pattinson, the rat has become the symbol for all economic progress or downfall. The relevance of this film is staggering due to a post 2008 financial crisis, one which many people still face. Most will presume this is Pattinson's exploration into a new form of film since his final Twilight film is this year. But this film is not simplistic in any way, it is cerebral.

Cosmopolis is the story of multi-Billionaire Eric Packer(he doesn't dawn the bat suite. Totally different billionaire you are thinking about) who wants a haircut. His chauffeur advises him that the president will be in town that day, which will ultimately make the ride a little more difficult. Throughout the course of a sex, economic, food, anarchy protest driven day. Eric still waits for his haircut knowing that his life is at risk, he still ventures to receive his desires.

Now I'm not the biggest fan of Pattinson, but before I say my opinion of his performance I'd just like to say that I haven't liked his performances in Twilight(it's like starring at a wall), I can say this is his best performance to date but it's an okay performance, it's not that impressive. However, I would like it if he would do more films like these to prove to cinephiles that he is not just that twilight guy.

While it's very easy to note that Cronenberg has been playing the safe side for the past few years, this seems like his more ambitious and weirder films like "Videodrome", "Dead Ringers", "Naked Lunch" and "Crash". I personally did not like "Dangerous Method", I thought it was pure Oscar Bait, "A History of Violence" and "Easter Promises" are both great films, but they lacked the weirdness that his earlier films had, which is what helps "Cosmopolis" become such a great film.

While I stated that Pattinson is okay, I do love the character. Here is a character that is has everything, but wants and desires something as simple as a haircut. He is on the edge of his sanity, and is purposely betting all of his money against himself. He has his appointments in his limo, including a check up by his doctor, numerous sexual encounters, and has many food based encounters with his wife. He is narcissistic, cold and alienating, he isn't the hunk from Twilight that many of his fans will be expecting.

This film is dialogue driven and it can put some people off. It alienates the viewer intentionally as the film goes on, but the dialogue is so well written and smart that it's almost hard to not be interested as it goes on.

The main setting, the limo, is very scifi, it's unrealistic but very real. It's Oscar worthy for a Production Designers point of view. The Limo is were most of the action takes place, were the conversations are staged. The viewer almost feels like we are in the limo with these characters because it becomes familiar throughout. We see it drive off in the beginning, watch conversations about capitalism, watch Eric have sex in it, watch him cry, watch it getting destroyed by anarchists, watch him get a check up by a doctor, and piss in it, essentially, the limo becomes a character.

There isn't much violence, but with whatever violence we do get, it's very well done. My personal favorite scene involves a riot which *spoiler alert* vandalizes the limo. The entire scene is Eric and this woman talking about the future while a riot plays in the background, the scene mostly focuses on the conversation rather than the riot, but it has an effect that sends a chill through your spine.

The performances are good. Some characters I wish could have been fleshed out a bit more, but otherwise they were good enough to watch entirely. Some could have been a little more realistic and some were beyond unrealistic. I really didn't buy Eric's wife, she seemed way too mysterious for her own good and otherwise I couldn't really care about her. Paul Giamatti's last 20 minutes actually had me on the edge of my seat and had my heart beating quickly. His character is scary and subtle.

This is a film about ideas, not emotion. It will end up on my Top 10 of 2012 easily. However, I'm pretty sure this will not be in favor at the Oscars next year since their current streak with films about emotions rather than ideas(Extremely Close anyone?) always dominate every categories.

I Give it 4.5/5 Stars

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Crap of the Day: The Crater Lake Monster

Now I'm normally a fan of shlock B Movies, hell I'll even consider myself a fan of Ed Wood films(they're fun to watch when you're with friends). But where there are fun B Movies, there are bastard children wannabes that are too bad to watch, and that's where "The Crater Lake Monster" comes in.

So we all know the story of Loch Ness monster right? Alright now imagine that, but it's a plesiosaur and it's not in Scotland and it kills people for food and there you have it! The complicated plot of this mad movie!

Now this movie has a pile of issues, for instance, it's more lake than monster. If I counted how many minutes in total the monster is on screen, it would be at least 15 minutes out of the total 1 hour 25 minutes movie. We are spent watching pointless scenes of terrible character development and dialogue. There is a scene where some random dude *spoiler alert*shoots a store clerk for beer, which by the way has absolutely nothing to do with the monster, and is later chased by the cop into the lake where he is later eaten by the monster. He is a pretty pointless plot point and a badly executed one at that.

The performances are just terrible. It's like watching people reading note cards right in front of their faces. Now I realize this may be low budget, but it doesn't even feel like the actors were having a fun time with this, it feels like they were tortured on set so they used there performances to torture the viewers. If I am correct, then well played actors... well played.

The effects are all stop motion effects. If you're not aware of stop motion then think clay like visual effects. I'm generally a fan of it. I've done some work on stop motion effects and they are fun. These are some pretty cool stop motion effects since some of them actually blend well in reality, but there's not much of it in a movie that's supposed to be about the monster.

The editing is just half assed. All cuts are choppy, you can barely see the monster attack characters in separate scenes.

Now, some of the scenes showing the lake are beautifully shot, there's just too much of them. So much that after a point of watching this movie I could stop calling it "Crater Lake Monster" and start calling it "The Crater Lake".

Ultimately, I would put this in a category next to Troll 2 for crappiest of the crap. It's not fun, it's torture for the eyes. My advice? See it drunk with your friends if you really want to see it.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Trailer Reviews: Man of Steel

While this is just a teaser trailer, this has certainly become one of the most hyped up films of next year. While I am not a huge fan of Superman like a I am a Batman fan, I am aware of the mythology and am currently in the process of reading the Man of Steel comics by John Byrne and Dick Giodarno; and from what I've seen, this will be a more "grounded in reality" version of Superman.

The story of Superman is almost universally known by everyone, I'm not going to bother writing the whole concept of the plot. Plus it's a gigantic spoiler if I tell you everything! I'm not going to ruin your joy a year before the movie is released.

The notoriety of the trailer mostly stems from its beautiful tone that sparks memory of Terrence Mallick if you will. This seems to be Snyders most adult themed film coming out of making visually stunning CGI films. It's somber tone makes it seem as though it wont be a big explosive summer film but a serious film that could join the realm of The Dark Knight Trilogy.

I do have one big problem with it. Zack Snyder. I am still very angry about Sucker Punch which landed on my #2 of my worst of 2011 list. Now you're considering the idea that I am going to hate this movie because I don't like Snyder. Not at all true. I think he has a visually stunning eye(I did like Watchmen but didn't like 300), I just don't think he should write his own films.

There are two versions of the trailer. One with Russell Crowe, the other with Kevin Costner. Here is the Costner version if you're wondering about it(the crowe version is the trailer at the top if you haven't guessed it yet)-

The final shot of Superman flying is pretty Spectacular. It shows us the harsh conditions of the mesosphere, stratosphere and troposphere; after leaving the final layer of Earth, he goes supersonic. While the other Superman films make this effect seem simple, Snyders version seems to take the realism to its realistic level(pun not intended).

So overall, if you were expecting to see more of Superman in this trailer, it wont work for you. Otherwise it's a fantastic teaser that left me wanting to see more.